The Declaration Of Church Authority Over Marriage

1647 WordsMar 12, 20177 Pages
Prior to the twelfth century, marriage law was perceived as being secular, however, the declaration of Church authority over marriage in the twelfth century meant that its rules were highly important in the period 1100-1500. The Church claimed control over the ‘definition’, ‘formation’, ‘validity’ and ‘qualities’ of marriage, with these rules being assimilated into the lives of Western people. While it can be argued that this authority was inconsistent, with insubordination being rife, the sheer jurisdiction of the Church meant that its rules were followed by the majority, with disobedience being disciplined. The Church ruled over people lives and breaking its law risked excommunication, with penance being the only route to absolution.…show more content…
However, historians have looked at how the Church’s decisions on marriage were turned into legislation with sermons allowing the study of Church teachings and giving an insight into what ordinary people would have been told about marriage. This demonstrates how Church rules were gradually incorporated into the lives of the people, allowing the Church to establish obedience with its ’ideals’ and leading to the conformity of public opinion. This control meant the Church alone could establish whether a marriage was ‘acceptable’, or declare it invalid and dissolve it. A breach of Church law regarding marriage could result in excommunication: the suspension of Church rites. While it is hard to know how strictly people followed Church law, the laity actively recognised its power and thus, would have followed its rules of marriage to a substantial extent. This demonstrates that while it is hard to determine the extent of strict adherence to Church marriage rules, it was highly concerned with imposing these rules on all peoples, with punishment being the alternative to the conformity of the laity. Church consent was key in allowing marriages to take place. Marriage was only permitted by the Church as they saw it as having been created by God as a ‘cure for lust’ which ‘regulated the sexual impulses’ and legitimated procreation. Whilst the view that sex was a social problem was prevalent, popular opinion within the Church and among the
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